Left Coast Writers® Laila El-Sissi - Fate Knocked on My Door (Corte Madera Store)

Left Coast Writers®
Laila El-Sissi

Fate Knocked On My Door

Corte Madera Store

Sat., April 1, 2023 • 2:00pm PT

This event will be hosted in-person at Book Passage's Corte Madera Store. Please contact webmaster@bookpassage.com with questions regarding events.

Please join us for a reading by Laila El-Sissi from her new novel, Fate Knocked On My Door, and a Q&A hosted by Book Passage for this event organized by the Left Coast Writers.

Fate Knocked on My Door: A Teenager’s Journey Across Three Continents to Find Herself, is a memoir that tells the story of a teenage Egyptian girl’s struggle to flee an arranged marriage. During her travels to Lebanon, Italy and, finally, Canada, she experiences sexual assault and heart ache. She finds a new home, freedom, self-confidence, self-reliance liberation from her parent’s oppression, and herself but not without the loss of her family. Fate Knocked on My Door, has relevance for the present day and is reflective of the plight of women in the region and beyond. Worldwide, millions of arranged marriages occur every year. However, few Egyptian women have the courage to leave home, travel around the world alone, and then write and speak publicly about their experiences and success.

As a 14-year-old girl born and raised in Alexandria, Egypt, Laila was denied the right to choose whom to marry. Unable to live with this fact, she extracted a divorce and embarked on a search for freedom. Divorced, penniless, and without the shelter of her previous life, Laila finds herself in an unknown world and on a frightening journey. She counts on her older sister, Rawyia, to help her achieve her dream of getting an education and finding Ghassan, the man she fell in love with in Alexandria prior to her arranged marriage. Laila and Ghassan promised to meet in Beirut, Lebanon, and marry. Rawyia imposes rules on Laila as a condition for her help. Rawyia, who is married to an old rich man, tells her sister that she can only fulfill her dream by also marrying into money. Laila refuses. Soon after, Laila finds Ghassan’s cousin, Nagi. She moves in with Nagi’s family, finds a job at an attorney’s office, and resumes her education. However, Laila wants more for her life. Independence and self-reliance is her goal. And she wants to fulfill her promise to her monther and get her mother out of Egypt. In addition, she wants to prove to her tyranical father that freedom is not taboo for an Egyptian woman.

In Beirut, Laila’s employer sexualually assaults her. That prompt her to travel to Italy and work as assistant to an Arab Ambassador. There she receives a marriage proposal from the Ambassador’s 60-year old brother, which she refuses. She returns to Lebanon, disappointed. By then, she gave up on her search for Ghassan.

As she starts to resume her education, fate interferes. Always curious and eager to regain her confidence, courage and freedom, Laila embraces the opportunity to immigrate to Canada.

So she travels to Canada. There she works, goes to college, and becomes ready to send for her mother. Laila soon discovers that fate is still not done with her. Within, the first year, she learns that Rawyia’s son was sexualually assaulted at age three and that he has been in a car accident. Then, she learns her mother is ill.

Laila travels to Egypt to see her mother. During, the train ride from Cairo to Alexandria, fate invades her plans, again. Her mother dies a few hours before Laila’s arrival. She finds solace with Adel, a young army officer she met on the way to Alexandria, and falls in love.

Back in Canada, Laila feels lonely and sad. She wants to settle down and have a family and children, but Adel cannot leave the army. She meets Hazem on a blind date in Toronto. He proposes, she considers the offer even though her heart still is with Adel, the young officer.

She accepts Hazem’ proposal. She fulfills her dream of having children. She two sons. She reside in California with her family, but with a broken heart.



Laila El-Sissi is the author of Out from The Shadow of Men, a memoir translated into German and Arabic. She is the Director of a solar company and also Manager at a semiconductor company. Laila participated in writing classes at Stanford University. She is a member of Stanford Alumni Writing and Review Club. She also is a member of Fremont Writing Club. She has participated in numerous public reading of her books, and appeared on television. Laila also appeared on a variety of radio shows after the release of her first book. Laila was schooled in French Catholic school even though her father was an observant Muslim. There she learned to fight for her rights. She thrives on challenge and always eager to prove to herself that she can do anything she sets her mind on. She now lives in the United States. She is also a painter and novice poet. She spends her free time playing tennis.


Laila El-Sissi photo courtesy of the author



Book Passage Corte Madera
51 Tamal Vista Blvd
Corte Madera, CA 94925
Fate Knocked on My Door: A Story of a Young Girl Looking for Freedom and Independance from a Culture of Control By Laila El-Sissi Cover Image
ISBN: 9780990335405
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Laila R. El-Sissi - September 12th, 2022